While not normally in the habit of complimenting Democrats, I would like to take the opportunity to laud our U.S. Representative Brian Baird for his recent statements on MSNBC and his editorial in the Seattle Times supporting America's efforts in Iraq. This courageous call for America to support our troops and the "surge" in Iraq comes at a time when an increasing number of Americans are realizing that, despite the best efforts of some to convince them otherwise, all is not lost in Iraq, and success is still possible.
Mr. Baird's statements can only be interpreted as a principled position, since it may well cost him some support within his own party. (Lawyers call this an "admission against interest"). He opposed the action in Iraq from the beginning, but realizes now that defeat and surrender to al Qaeda is not an option. What a contrast from presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war when they thought it popular, and voted against it the moment support in the public opinion polls dropped below 50 percent. I find it hard to imagine a more despicable example of irresolute political opportunism.
I must respectfully disagree with Rep. Baird on a couple of points. I believe the invasion of Iraq was a prudent and necessary step in the greater War on Terror. When the decision was made in 2002 and 2003, so did the President, and a majority of Congress and the American people. Even if one were to change their mind on the wisdom of going into Iraq, the action was taken, and history does not allow for a mulligan.
Secondly, while mistakes and errors have certainly been made in Iraq, this is not just true of every other military effort; it is in fact the nature of war. It is important to remember that, for every action deemed a mistake by the "experts," taking the other road may also have led to problems as well. Had we gone in with more troops, we might well be sitting here today decrying an even higher cost in blood and treasure, or bemoaning the mistake of occupying Iraq with "too big of a footprint." Had more effort been made to keep Saddam's army and government together, we could well be dealing with far more sectarian violence or an Iraqi government with little participation from the Shia population distrustful of the Sunni Baathists in powerful positions.
The point I am making, and at which Rep. Baird has apparently arrived as well, is that wars are not won by making perfect decisions, or sometimes even good ones. The decision to go to war is in itself a choice of a lesser of evils. Wars are won by having the determination, will and resolution not to lose them. The result of surrendering the fight in Iraq is an evil far worse than any we have yet seen. An abdication to the forces of anarchy, tribal hatred and terrorism would bring a horrific slaughter of innocents not just in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East and eventually here in the U.S. as well.
There has never been any doubt that America has the material ability to win this war, in the past we have made far more sacrifice to overcome far stronger opponents. It is heartening to see increasing evidence that we still have the will and determination to achieve victory as well.